It’s that time of year again! Our friends at Democracy Club are getting excited about local elections taking place for thousands of councillor positions across England and Northern Ireland this May. In this guest post, Joe Mitchell tells us what they’re getting so excited about.
At Democracy Club we’re thinking about how to bring democracy kicking and screaming into the 21st-century, only 18 years late. While digital technology has transformed the way we interact with our friends and family, pizza delivery companies, banks and supermarkets, our interactions with the democratic process have not kept pace.
We know, for example, that on or just before election day, millions of people will search online for questions like ‘Where do I vote?’ and ‘Who are my local candidates’. Let’s try to get them an answer.
Council officers can help us in at least three ways.
One is to ensure that you have shared your area’s data on polling locations, to help us power our polling station finder. Get in touch with us if you’re not sure.
Second, if you work with candidates, you can let them know that there is a space online that voters will be looking for them. Instructions to candidates here.
Third, you can join our volunteer army! Help us add information on candidates directly to our crowdsourcing website. Like Wikipedia, but for elections.
If you love elections, you are also warmly invited to our SoPNDay parties! These are planned for:
These are events where we get people together to crowdsource data on candidates from the official statements of persons nominated (SoPN). You bring a laptop, you race your friends and colleagues to add the most data — you might even hit the top of the leaderboard! We provide the snacks.
All of this, is of course, in order to power tools to help voters. The data you help create will power The Electoral Commission’s Your Vote Matters, Democracy Club’s WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk and be of assistance to countless local newspapers, local facebook groups and so on.
After the local elections in 2017, The Electoral Commission commissioned research that interviewed 2,000 people who’d had elections that year:
We asked people in England with local government elections if they felt they had enough information to make an informed choice on who to vote for – one third of all respondents, including nearly half of 18-34 year olds, disagreed.
This should worry us. And motivate us to do something about this. So please come help us out!